Ensuring you have the best financial advice for your business is crucial no matter what stage of business you are in. Finding a good Accountant or Bookkeeper can be tough and may take a number of tries to find the right one.
So how do you know if you have chosen the right financial member for your business? More to the point, where do you begin when finding an Accountant or Bookkeeper for your business?
In this guide we dig into the simple steps to finding the right one for your business and once you have found them, what questions you should ask to ensure they are in fact the right fit.
Finding an Accountant or Bookkeeper
The first place to find an answer like this is to ask someone you know and trust.
That may be through a friend who has their own business or it may be a colleague if you are still working another job before you make the leap to full time on your own business.
Seek advice from as many people as you can in your networks. People are usually happy to give their own experience and advice. At the very least you will be able to weed out the people you don’t want to work with.
Once you have exhausted your network, the next best place you should search is obviously online.
Do a Google search and read the reviews for people in your local area. Make a short-list of the businesses you think might be a good fit for you.
Are Your Requirements Industry Specific?
One thing to be aware of is if your requirements for a bookkeeper or accountant need to be industry specific.
Not all accountants cater to all types of industries. Because there are so many types of industries, you will find that a lot of Accountants and bookkeepers are specialists in certain industries only.
For example, if you are in the manufacturing industry, you will likely need to emphasise inventory, accounts payable and liability areas of finance. Whereas if you are in the services industry you will need a focus on sales and expenses.
Make sure that you identify your type of businesses industry and when picking your accountant or bookkeeper that they are capable of servicing your industry.
Most importantly, they need to have experience in your industry otherwise you may not be getting the best advice that you should be getting.
Interview the Accountants / Bookkeepers
Once you have identified some accountants or bookkeepers you may want to work with, it is important to interview them so you can single down to one. Also to make sure they are the right fit for your business.
There’s several questions you need to ask them to determine if they are the right fit for you. Here are some of the most important questions:
- Can they give advice on how you can grow your business, revenue and profits? This is super important. Sure you may hire the accountant/bookkeeper to do your routine tax requirements but can they give you advice and help you grow your business? You need someone that you can rely on to give you the advice and strategy to improve profits.
- Can they grow your businesses wealth? Sure they can give advice but can they construct a strategy for you that can sustain long term wealth in your business.
- Will they help you understand and manage your cash flow? Knowing your numbers is critical in any successful business and helping you understand the often tricky parts of reading your cash flow reports like your profit and loss statement will give you true numbers in your business. Once you are able to measure it, you will be able to manage it.
- Can they help with asset protection? A good accountant will give you the right advice to ensure you not only set up your business the right way but to ensure you can safely keep your asset until the end. This comes down to asset protection and minimising risks in your business.
- Can they help build your succession Plan & Exit strategy? The ultimate goal no matter if you have your eyes on this right now or not is to successfully exit your business. This could be decades down the track or it could be just months away. No matter when it may be, knowing that you have set up a successful succession or exit plan from your business is what matters the most when everything is said and done.
- Do they use your preferred accounting software? There are dozens of ways you can maintain the businesses financial books. Two of the leading online accounting solutions are Xero and MYOB (We use Xero). Surprisingly, and especially if they are the older generation, many accountants are still using old-school accounting methods like offline accounting software. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is far simpler and easier to have an in the cloud, automatically backed-up solution that accountants and bookkeepers can access no matter where they are in the world.
- What are their service offerings and how do they charge? Check that the accountant or bookkeeper offers all of the services that you need them to provide. Next see how they offer their services. Is it a weekly or monthly fee or is it ad-hoc. When it comes to knowing your financials, more is always better. It is understandable that when you are first starting out that finances may be tight. If that is the case then you will want to make sure you have all the necessary financial things sorted right away and then it might be easier as an ad-hoc solution in the short term moving into a weekly or monthly offering after that to help with all your finances.
Ultimately it comes down to what you need them to do and how often. If their services match your needs needs then great, you should give them a trial.
Sign up to their services and trial them for an extended period of time. For example, let them run their service offerings for about a quarter (3 months). that way you will get a good glimpse in how they can help you grow your business.
Remember that even though you are looking for someone to help you on the financial side, they are not an employee so do not expect them to just service you. They have other clients that they need to service too. But do utilise their time and make the most of their abilities.
At the end of the day, you are paying them to help grow your business.
If they are doing a good job then keep them. If you think that they just aren’t the right fit for you or aren’t doing a good enough job then perhaps they are not the right fit for your business.
Be open to your accountant/bookkeeper and they may be able to adjust what they are doing or help you in the way you require.
If they simply are not up to scratch or not the right fit then after you have trialled them for the quarter (you may need less time than that to know) then you simply end the working relationship and go to the second business on your list.
That is where you begin your interview process again.
At the end of the day, a good accountant or bookkeeper will help you with financial advice, do what is necessary to reduce your tax bill requirements and help you grow your business. If you are just starting out then they can help you structure your business correctly and may be able to set up your business legally for you too.
Provided you have been taught to understand your own numbers then you will not need to call upon your accountant or bookkeeper every single day. But when you do need to, you should be happy knowing that you have chosen a good one.